Open 5 – Yorkshire Dales, Reeth February 5th 2017

The second event in the series and a new part of the Dales for me.  I double checked my bike after last events mishaps before loading it up the night before to travel through the dales to get there for Sundays race.

I don’t know this part of the Dales very well, having raced out of Muker a year or so ago with another Open 5 event and been impressed with the terrain for Adventure Racing I was looking forward to visiting Reeth very much.  Its mountain biking is legendary, and what little I saw of it, its a place to go back to for sure.

My journey up through the Dales, essentially Skipton, turn left and keep going north till you reach Reeth was long in the dark, on line I had clocked a youth hostel on the outskirts of Reeth – Grinton YHA and thought I might see if I can park up there and use their ‘facilities’, otherwise I would just park as close to the village green as I could, from where the start/finish area was to be.  I got to the youth hostel – a lone, old building in the middle of the moors, I pulled in… doors were open, lights were on, but no sign of life. No one, anywhere.  I started knocking on doors, nothing.  Very weird!

I carried on to Reeth itself and spotted several cars and vans that looked like they too may be competitors on a cobbled area next to the green.  It looked ideal for the night, apart from the three or four pubs around the edge of the village green/cobbled market area, hmm, I’ll just sit tight and give it a few minutes to see how many people are  about at 9.30 pm on a Saturday night that might want to cause me a rude awakening…. no one! not a soul could be heard or seen. Does anyone live here at all?  And the public loos stayed unlocked overnight – what kind of place is this!

After a peaceful night (Shame really as some of those pubs looked well worth checking out) I awoke to a cold damp morning, alongside the usual hubbub of an Open 5; cars arriving, competitors milling about and greeting one another.  The sky was a little overcast, but otherwise clear – it was going to be a good day as per the forecast.

a packed village green, opposite transition

So, confident in my bike this time round having had a recent repair and service of sorts (thank you Stevie G) all I had to manage was my cold.  Another one!  I’m beginning to think all the early years work I do may be detrimental to my racing… So, with Day Nurse consumed, coffee levels topped up and extra snacks to ‘feed the cold’ I registered and made my way to the start area – wonderfully close to the van for a change!

map marked and ready to go: up, then down mostly.

The map itself gave the following options: either up then down, or, up then down or if I was feeling really enthusiastic: up/down then up/down! I decided a clockwise loop out would work well, subject to where the scoring controls were.  Run wise I wasn’t sure as it all involved some sort of climb, given Reeth’s position at the head of two valleys.  I had decided to carry on my experiment of biking first, three hours then running for two ish, (usually just less, post transition).

just a great picture. the control was in some old mining equipment in the buildings shell.

Some of the controls on the bike were a little cheeky I thought, in that you needed to be off the bike to get them, but that added to the fun! I cycled well, really well to be fair and was in the process of thinking about extending my loop to collect another control as I headed from 7 up the bloody big hill to 9 when I came across a Female Pairs Team with a clear mechanical issue, in that the rear derailleur was on top of the rear cassette and at quite an odd angle!  Having had my own mechanical issues last time, I stopped and offered to help. With a bit of brute force and ignorance we got the rear derailleur back to roughly where it should be, but it was clear it was knackered.  I suggested knocking some links out and setting the bike up as a single speed to skip the broken mech, but with no chain tool to hand and looking for a quicker fix the girls decided a cable tie to try and hold it in place would be better.  I assume they made it back in one piece!  I carried on and was really able to get some speed built up as I hammered back to the transition.  Although certainly snotty, the cold wasn’t causing me the issues the last one had and I was pleased with my bike performance. I got back just a few minutes off my plan and quickly ate and drank,  bum bag on and back out to run.

The cave control, knackering climb just out of shot

As before my legs were not ready to turn over straight off the bike – How do triathletes do it!!!!    I gently trotted north up the hill electing to get he higher value controls all around Fremington Edge, an obvious loop, clockwise again to get the climb in early seemed to be the way forward.  It took a good 25 minutes to get my legs running again, by which time I was struggling to breathe due to my cold as I tramped up to the cave and control 31.   That being my high point I was then in a good place for ‘proper’ running and pretty much down hill all the way back in, so I finally felt I was running at a suitable pace and making up ground.  I ended up heading into town way faster than I anticipated, but I recognised this a little too late to add a few more points on to my total.  Although pleased with my tally and performance, I do think I could have got another 15 points, I got back in with 7 minutes to spare, which is a lot given the nature of this course.  Not quite top 50% – which for me is my bench mark of a good race, but given the cold I had I was pleased with my performance. Strategy wise I may return to run first/bike second next time out… I need to mull that one over some more.

me doing some gratuitous navigating and picking a line to head down hill.

The next outing in March is from Church Stretton and the Long Mynd – which I last raced over in 2011.  I recall it being a great day out as well, in a stunning part of the world. It will be interesting as that is going to be the day after the race that I organise – the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round, which I am normally on my feet for 8 hours plus and generally pretty drained after!

Thanks as ever go to Open Adventure for putting these events on and James Kirby for the great pictures.